Folksy Ltd

How do you take pics without reflections?!?!

(Natalie Morris) #1

Ok, this is driving me crazy… Some of my products are ceramic with a glaze on them and some are acrylic plastic. If I photograph them in natural light I get a reflection that obscures the design, and if I do it with a flash I get an even worse image. Any solutions? Also, could someone please look at my shop and tell me if my pics are awful?

(Joy Salt) #2

I would Never use flash and certainly not on something shiny like my glass and therefore your ceramics.

(Eileens Craft Studio) #3

Do you have filters you can put on your camera lens they help a lot.

(Sasha Garrett) #4

As a jeweller working with shiny surfaces I feel your pain. So some tips to try:

  1. avoid flash or put a diffuser over it (tissue paper or even clingfilm covered in vaseline, do not put vaseline directly on the flash)
  2. use a reflector (piece of white card or card covered in foil) to bounce light on to the shadows
  3. use a diffuser to diffuse bright day light (you can either buy one (mine was under a tenner from good old ebay) or cover the window/ light source with a piece of thin muslin/ net)
    those should allow you to avoid reflections/ glare however you may find that your exposures are longer as a result making any camera shake more obvious. I use a digi SLR on a full size tripod you can get smaller tripods and tripods for camera phones depending on what you are using (my partner has a gorilla pod which he is impressed with and aren’t to expensive) but you then might need to tweek the rest of the set up so that you are not shooting from a funny angle.
    Some of your pictures are cropped so close its not obvious what the item is just that it has a slogan on it.
    Finally given the folksy hour discussion about trademarks/ copyright - have you checked that you are allowed to use the images? You have StarWars and Dr Who items which could land you in trouble if you don’t have permission to use them (there was a news story about a lady who made up her own pattern to knit an Adipose and was given a cease and desist for distributing it).

(Ronald Koorm) #5

I have experience in photographing ceramics and mosaics from large to very small. Yes, reflections can be a problem, such as highlights from lamps and flash, even sunlight.

I used a combination of natural daylight and fill-in flash, but for some of the smaller items I use a Metz macro flash, which has two flash tubes either side of the lens, on a sort of a circular ring, and fully adjustable. The advantage of that, is you can achieve almost shadowless lighting. Very good for smaller objects.

Other makes have the flash in a ring, called a ‘ringflash’. You can still get reflections with ringflashes, but that’s why an adjustable unit with two or more micro flashes is useful, to balance the lighting. Second hand ringflashes can be bought quite cheaply in camera shops and online, but makes like Nikon and Canon tend to be expensive.

You can use a special filter, called a polarising filter, and have to use trial and error to filter out reflections, but they are not cheap, particularly for larger lenses. They also are not the total answer, and intended to be used mainly outdoors, where you can turn the ring to reduce the polarised light reflections, great for reducing glass reflections.

You can experiment with making a small low reflection ‘tent’, with matt material, such as velvet or black card, non-glossy, and illuminate with the ringflash, or small lamps.

The angle of the lamps to the camera is important, otherwise you can still get light bouncing back and causing ‘highlights’ on your piece. Transluscent material on tents can sometimes work too, a bit of trial and error required.

Finally, it is sometimes possible to use software to reduce or eliminate small highlights and reflections, but not always works.

(Sasha Garrett) #6

@Rkaimages these ring /macro flashes sound like useful bits of kit - do you know if they make equivalent bits of kit for compact cameras or cameraphones? (I confess the only reason I have a digi SLR is because it is on semi permanent loan from the other half and I know very little about the gadgets and gizmos that are about)

(Ronald Koorm) #7

The ringflashes and dual flashes on a ring, tend to use a threaded circular adaptor to fit onto the camera lens filter thread.
Basically, look at your camera, and if it has a threaded bit at the end, you should be able to fit the ring which either comes with the ringflash, or you buy it separately for a few pounds, for the right size. Lots of inexpensive ringflashes out there, some quite good. (about £40 - £50 providing it is not a well known camera brand. Those major ones are a lot more)

So several compact cameras have threaded ends to the lenses, but cameraphones don’t, at least I know of none.

Also, you need to ensure that you can synchronise your camera to the flash. This can be via using the flash hotshoe on the camera, sometimes with a cheap adapter, available in better camera shops or online. Some cameras have a flash socket, for the flash lead, but they tend to be professional ones, or much older film cameras that have those.

I tend to use my Metz dual flash ‘ringflash’ in manual mode for close ups. That way you have more control over the exposure in my view. I use it on a Nikon SLR , but it also works with Canon, and many other cameras.

You can even use it remotely, triggered wirelessly from the camera. It is not cheap at about £225 - £250 but has made an enormous difference to my close-ups.

Cameraphones and similar have limited options, so a ringflash may not be the way to go there. But there are lots of fancy gadgets out there for cameraphones, so worth looking.

I suggest you contact people like Cameraworld, or Warehouse Express, or Park Cameras, they have most of the relevant equipment, and know what they are talking about.

The choices if you can fit an adaptor ring onto the end of your lens are:
(a) Dual flashes often positioned on a circular ring, and surrounds your lens. eg The Metz Macro flash. The flashes can be adjusted to have 1:1 balanced output or you can have one side brighter than the other for effects. eg 1:2 or 1:4 or 1:8
(b) Circular ringflashes, which also thread on the end of your lens and have a continuous flash tube. With these you can only alter the output of the flash , but you get even more shadowless lighting due to the flash tube being continuous.

Nikon, and I think Canon, also do some device with two separate mini flashes , but very expensive. I would be surprised if someone hasn’t tried to make a ringflash for an iphone, but you need to do the research.
Hope this helps.

(Natalie Morris) #8

Thank you SO much - very helpful